Commission to investigate meat labelling matter

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pretoria - Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has asked the National Consumer Commission (NCC) to urgently investigate the matter of meat labelling after it emerged that undeclared products were found in South African meat.

Research conducted by a study group at the University of Stellenbosch with regard to the content of various meat products in South Africa found the presence of donkey, water buffalo, goat and other undisclosed meat products in certain processed foods available to consumers at retail stores.

“In terms of Section 24 of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), Consumers have a right to disclosure of information: this disclosure includes product labelling and trade descriptions. It is imperative that whatever is put out for human consumption must comply with the labelling and disclosure requirements as contained in the CPA. The Commission has a responsibility to monitor compliance with the relevant labelling requirements,” said Davies on Wednesday.

The minister said that the NCC -- which is an agency of the dti -- is concerned about this matter. The labelling of these products does not make full disclosure of the aforesaid meat content.

The NCC is charged with the responsibility to enforce functions assigned to it in terms of the CPA which aims to establish national norms and standards relating to consumer protection as well as provide for improved standards of consumer information among others.

“Consumers have every right to be informed of the ingredients contained in food products so that they may make informed choices. Failure to do so by any party in the supply chain would constitute a breach of the CPA,” said the dti.

In terms of the CPA, each and every person or supplier within the value chain has a responsibility to ensure that when a trade description is applied to goods, they must not knowingly apply a trade description that is likely to mislead the consumer.

“Equally, a retailer may not also alter, deface, cover, remove or obscure a trade description or trade mark applied to any good in a manner calculated to mislead consumers. It is important that this point is emphasized for the simple reason that retailers must be aware that they equally have a responsibility as the end suppliers of food products to ensure that the labels on the products they supply to consumers are compliant with the labelling requirements as stipulated in the CPA.” -